John Maclaughlan asks what we can learn from the witness of our ‘inward parts’

We know from the heading of Psalm 51 that David composed the Psalm after Nathan had confronted David with the fact of his sin regarding Uriah the Hittite and Bathsheba his wife. In the first four verses of the Psalm, David is acknowledging his sin before the LORD and is looking to the LORD for His mercy. David knows that the sins that he has committed should lead to his execution and he can only cry to the LORD for His mercy.

It appears in verses 5 and 6 that David starts to contemplate more than just what he has done. It is as if David starts to see that the issue is not just what he has done but, rather, who he is! It is too easy to put our sinful actions behind us and ‘move on’; I think that a word used for this today is ‘closure’ . We put the issue behind us and then we intend to go forward having learned from our mistakes. If only we could do that, and if only it were that easy! Such actions can completely miss the root of the problem. What David had done caused him to seriously question himself: How could he have done such things to one of his special ‘mighty men’ (2 Sam 23:39), and with such callousness? How could he show such disregard for the LORD’s Law? David had done what he had done even though, after Samuel had anointed him, we read that “the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward” (1 Sam 16:13). David may well have been completely shocked at what he saw in himself. How could he have stooped to such a depth?

 

Perhaps it is time for another look at this maligned festival?

For many, the original Christian meaning of Christmas has been lost among the tinsel, revelry and mammon overkill. What still remains can be tinged by nostalgic ritual or even over-familiarity. Where is the birth of our Messiah among this? Where is the clear image of the miracle of the Incarnation? Is there a way to reclaim the core events and understanding among the noise that surrounds it? Or should we just wipe our hands of it and concede defeat to our secular society, which has hijacked it and converted it into a festival of over-indulgence?

On thursday, as an end-of-term treat for my students at the RCOG Bible School, we decided to take the plunge and have a go at the "Christmas Telling" script what I wrote.It wasn't the first time it had been used, Peter Sammons beat us by a few days at his church, where they went off-script only once, using Brut after shave instead of incense sticks!

highly-regarded adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury has quit the inner counsels of the Church of England in protest against an “agenda of revisionism” that she says is promoting “an ongoing and rapid erosion of faithfulness”.

Lorna Ashworth resigned from the Archbishops’ Council and General Synod, saying: “We have a liberal agenda because the church is not anchored in the Gospel. There is no more conversation about Heaven, Hell, sin, forgiveness, judgment.”

Her resignation illustrates the fissure in the church between liberals and traditionalists which is now threatening outright schism. The immediate flashpoints are gender and gay issues. Last July, the synod voted to ban sexual conversion therapy and to consider special services for transsexual people. A motion to permit the blessing of same-sex marriages has been submitted for next February’s synod but has yet to be adopted for debate.

This week, the church told its schools that pupils should be able to explore their gender identity and should be “afforded freedom from the expectation of permanence”. This muddled document seems to equate boys dressing up in a tutu and girls in a tool belt with psychological confusion over sexual identity, which is rare. Yet as is happening elsewhere, the church’s guidance risks confirming children in this confusion along ideological “gender” lines, while it denies it can be a disorder at all.

Ashworth’s protest, however, is a far deeper one about the church’s general embrace of secularism. The true message of Christianity, she says, risks being drowned out by people who prefer to discuss social justice because “if we talk about sin, then we have to talk about bad behaviour and people don’t want to be judgmental”....

This is a unique experience for both individuals or groups. You will spend the weekend in London, where you will learn much about the history of Christianity and how the Church can rediscover its identity and make an impact in a World that is growing more insecure daily. You will meet like-minded people in a pleasant environment, you will learn from experts, be entertained by a drama group, stay in a luxury hotel overnight then take part in a walking tour like no other ...! The weekend will be hosted by Steve & Monica Maltz of Saltshakers at Clayhall Baptist Church, Ilford.

Shock result! London is in mourning, but the people have spoken. Legally we have voted out but democracy has taken a real hit as 52%/48% is not really a consensus and can only lead to unrest and uncertainty. Yet we must hold onto the single most important fact. God is in control. We have His attention (I think the storms told us that fact) and now, I believe, we have, as a nation, His favour. How this pans out is hard to call but for those of us who voted "out", it's not a time for mockery or division, we just move on in our lives and, as Christians, get on with the real work of reconciling our nation back to God.

What has the New Covenant done for us? Peter Sammons explains

In the previous instalment, we reflected on the wonderful truth that through the covenants, God’s salvation purposes are progressively revealed. We conclude in reflecting on the realities of continuity and discontinuity as expressed in The New Covenant, of which all Gentiles are today potential beneficiaries.

One Covenant or many? Peter Sammons unpacks a key concept that so many get so wrong.

Our Saviour God is a covenantinitiating and a covenant-sustaining God. On that basis we praise Him every day, and receive full assurance that, in spite of the fact that we too often break our side of the relationship, God never breaks His.

A short story of the Israelites in the wilderness

Hoopi was an odd fellow. He was tall and lanky and walked with a stoop, his arms swinging awkwardly, like palm fronds in the breeze. He also had incredibly hairy ears that stuck out like the wings of a hoopoe bird. Hence his nickname. His real name was Gaddi, son of Gideon, from the tribe of Benjamin, but no-one ever called him that. It was always Hoopi, not just for his looks but, just as with his namesake, he was forever chattering in a birdlike manner.

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